Principles of a Good Project Manager

Just like other key positions within a large organization such as companies and corporations,project managers have their own principles that they strictly follow. Such principles vary depending on the individual approach and management style. The project manager typically employs his/her principles in carrying out the responsibilities that go with a certain undertaking. Those principles serve as guidelines in planning, staying with the methodology, controlling the project and managing a team effectively.

Before taking on a project with you at the helm, make sure that you will be given balanced responsibility and authority. You can’t take on many responsibilities without sufficient authority. In the same manner, you can’t have little responsibilities with too much mandate. Once assured that you’ll have balanced responsibility and authority, you can jumpstart the project and come up with a plan. This stage is the point when a project manager feels pressured to create a plan which meets the expectations of the proponents of the project such as the stakeholders. As the project manager, you should be able to devise a realistic schedule, one which you honestly believe is fair and can be achieved within a specified timeframe. Otherwise, you are merely subjecting yourself to additional pressure if you agree to push through with a project with a totally unrealistic schedule. It is also important that you are flexible enough to adapt to any possible changes. As the project manager, you must always update your plan in line with the latest changes and developments.

A great plan would be for naught if you don’t have an equally great team to back you up. If you are given a project to manage, you must have the prerogative to pick the best possible staff. You must be allowed to let go of less than average members of your team. Seasoned project managers are cognizant of the importance of having an excellent workforce in order to get the job done. Oftentimes having a good team can even compensate for lack of time or budget. As such, you should exert extra effort to foster a working environment where your team members have all the necessary tools and training at their disposal.

Another important principle to consider is the value of accurate and constant communication within the team. A project manager and team members should be fully knowledgeable about the expected outcome of a particular project and this is virtually impossible without having all communication lines open. Remember that good and transparent communication is indispensable in any group undertaking. Any signs of doubt or vagueness about the project objectives must be discarded through good communication. This greatly increases the chances of seeing the project reach its completion.

The project manager should also know how to inculcate a sense of urgency among the team members. Nowadays, managing a project is a venture against limited time and budget. Hence, you should know how to motivate and inspire team members to make concerted efforts to finish the project. You should have a personal plan or a system to constantly remind team members about deadlines, objectives and target results. Overall, a good project manager with sound management principles must be able to complete the project within the due date and meet the objectives and desired outcomes that have been envisioned from the get go.

18
Jul 2010
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Steven Macdessi on Stages of Project Management

By Steven Macdessi

Project management carries a heavy responsibility. The project manager is tasked to ensure that the plan is being implemented properly. Everything must meet the deadline otherwise gridlocks might occur in the project flow. This is because the next phase of the initiative may not be able to proceed without the completion of the previous step. Identifying the basic stages of project management is helpful in this regard. These include (1) Conception, (2) Definition, (3) Operation, and (4) Divestment/Termination.

All projects go through the four stages. But beyond identifying the phases, it is important to determine the specific aspects that go into the process. The elements in the stages of project management itself will differ depending on the complexity of the project and the industry it’s in. Below is an overview of what you should expect at each stage.

Conception

This involves the initial planning of the project. It can start with a thought, an idea, or a desire to change something. New opportunities are always presented when new opportunities are discovered. The concept of the project can be as simple as expanding on the existing systems or as complex as designing a whole new process altogether.

But the end goal of conception is always to improve things as it stands now. The conceptualisation phase should then move on to the formulation phase. It is important to determine how realistic it is to implement to said complex. The plan should clearer and more solid before it proceeds to the next stage.

Definition

The definition stage is all about refining the elements found in the conceptualisation stage. Every aspect that will be involved in the project must be identified and its functions defined. Among the steps that must be taken at this stage include preparing detailed plans, spotting high risk areas, creating the list of project requirements, and preparing documents (procedures, budgets) for the project.

Operational

If you’re working on engineering or other technology projects, for example, it is crucial to determine how the output of this project will fit in into the company’s overall system. Would it make everything more efficient or less so? Determine the impact of your initiative and find out if it is still worth pursuing. If it is, make sure that it is adequately supported to achieve best results.

Divestment

Finishing a project is definitely a cause for celebration. But as a project manager, it doesn’t stop there. The output should be tested and retested to find out if it is ready to be fully-operational. In addition, all files relating to the project must be turned over to the company. These should be well-maintained and arranged so that it would be easy to look back when potential issues arise.

13
Jul 2010
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What is in a Quality Assurance Plan?

If you’ve been in business long enough, you’ve most likely already heard about setting up a quality assurance plan. A lot of businesses, big and small, already have theirs in place. If you don’t have one yet, you might want to get started creating one.

The term is already an obvious giveaway to its definition. It implies the company’s thrust towards planning to produce and deliver products that are so good and effective that customers will almost always be satisfied. The individuals therefore who are assured are the ones who pay for what you sell.

Assuring customer satisfaction is therefore a relevant concept here. This is why you should also want to know why it is important. When you have a good quality assurance system that promotes satisfaction, you ensure the continued existence of your business. The more satisfied customers are, the more they’ll keep coming back to you. That means more income for years to come.

To make sure that you will always be able to churn out good products, you need to make sure that your plans are organized. The first step that you would always have to tackle in system creation is the identification of objectives. These should always be in line with customer needs and wants. You can get ideas of these through actual feedback.

Once you know what you need to concretely accomplish in a quality assurance program, the next step is to define roles and responsibilities. This simply means putting on the table who is in charge of what. All members of your team should be encouraged to ask questions to promote a thorough understanding of what is expected of them and what needs to be done.

The next step in planning is to create a structure or outline for coordination. Companies typically have several teams in charge of various standards and general responsibilities. It is a must for the team in charge of assuring product value to make sure that its system components and actions are in harmony with those of others. Otherwise, some points might contradict and make the accomplishment of objectives difficult.

Quality assurance plan task and schedule definition is the final planning step. This involves outlining what specific tasks need to be done and accomplished within a set time frame. This wraps up the brainstorming component in a comprehensive program and is followed by the phases that cover implementation, checking and action.

A good solid system actually does more than make customers happy. Companies can use their programs to their greater advantage to achieve ISO certification. Getting certified is an optional move for companies but you might want to apply for this to enjoy more benefits. It is generally known that certified companies are regarded even more highly by customers, business partners and other companies because of their having met international standards.

There is no doubt that you only stand to benefit from planning for a quality assurance system. Consistently providing good products or services is the only way you can convince customers that you are worth sticking it out with…

07
Jul 2010
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Cost Overrun

Cost overrun is defined as excess of actual cost over budget. Cost overrun is caused by cost underestimation and is sometimes called “cost escalation,” “cost increase,” or “budget overrun”. However, cost escalation and increases do not necessarily result in cost overruns if cost escalation is included in the budget.

Cost overrun is common in infrastructure, building, and technology projects. One of the most comprehensive studies  of cost overrun that exists found that 9 out of 10 projects had overrun, overruns of 50 to 100 percent were common, overrun was found in each of 20 nations and five continents covered by the study, and overrun had been constant for the 70 years for which data were available. For IT projects, an industry study by the Standish Group (2004) found that average cost overrun was 43 percent, 71 percent of projects were over budget, over time, and under scope, and total waste was estimated at US$55 billion per year in the US alone.

Spectacular examples of cost overrun are the Sydney Opera House with 1,400 percent, and the Concorde supersonic aeroplane with 1,100 percent. The cost overrun of Boston’s Big Dig was 275 percent, or US$11 billion. The cost overrun for the Channel tunnel between the UK and France was 80 percent for construction costs and 140 percent for financing costs.

Three types of explanation of cost overrun exist: technical, psychological, and political-economic. Technical explanations account for cost overrun in terms of imperfect forecasting techniques, inadequate data, etc. Psychological explanations account for overrun in terms of optimism bias with forecasters. Finally, political-economic explanations see overrun as the result of strategic misrepresentation of scope and/or budgets.

All of the explanations above can be considered a form of risk. A project’s budgeted costs should always include cost contingency funds to cover risks (other than scope changes imposed on the project). As has been shown in cost engineering research, poor risk analysis and contingency estimating practices account for many project cost overruns. Numerous studies have found that the greatest cause of cost growth was poorly defined scope at the time that the budget was established. The cost growth (overrun of budget before cost contingency is added) can be predicted by rating the extent of scope definition, even on complex projects with new technology.

Cost overrun is typically calculated in one of two ways. Either as a percentage, namely actual cost minus budgeted cost, in percent of budgeted cost. Or as a ratio, viz. actual cost divided by budgeted cost. For example, if the budget for building a new bridge was $100 million and the actual cost was $150 million then the cost overrun may be expressed as 50 percent or by the ratio 1.5.

05
Jul 2010
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Steps To Determine Project Success and Failure

Success is something that is desired by any business and company since they started. You’ve heard a lot of different stories on how they achieve success. One of the ways is to start with the specific by achieving project success. The project success and failure can be influenced by different factors. There are specific processes by which you can achieve project success and they can be availed from the experts. The common connotation that the bigger the project the chance of failing it is also bigger can be partly true since there are lots of responsibilities that you need to accomplish. But you can make use of this as a motivation in proving them wrong through the use of the important determinants of project success and failure.

The success and failure of your project can be determined by different criteria. The following are some of the steps that can determine the project success and failure.

1. Find out the scope of the project.

Scope is simply the works needed to complete the project. To ascertain the scope, you need to either express it by writing it or imply it. Managing the scope is a critical task since in determining project success and failure because you cannot identify all of the necessary tasks.

2. Collection of requirements.

 

This particular step is actually falls under the scope management and including the others that will follow. They are enumerated individually since they contribute specifically to the project success and failure. This step includes the act of ascertaining the needs of the stakeholder or the client. Collecting the requirements in well manner can directly influence the success and failure of the project.

3. Come up with Work Breakdown Structure.

Work breakdown structure is bringing the whole project into specifics. It includes the outline of the plan on how the project will be put up and determining the smaller parts of it. Like for an instance, dividing the deliverables and other small components comprises the work breakdown structure. Doing this right or not can also affect the project success and failure.

4. Verifying the scope.

Since you know the definition of scope and its importance, it is just to consider if it is accepted by the client. There are many ways to verify the scope of the project including at the time of presenting the contract, during the construction and after it has been built. Scope verification is an essential factor that can contribute greatly to the project success and failure.

These are some of the many determinants of project success and failure. And these are proven by experts as reliable steps in carrying out a project. You can have these and many of them can be found from the vast of online sites. Project success and failure is certainly influenced by many factors, steps, processes, etc. But the most important thing is that you are aware of them and you can make use of them to help you out in figuring out the project success and failure.

05
Jul 2010
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